New England’s heroin problem prompts DEA to launch anonymous text message line

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is constantly on their heels to combat the use of illicit and illegal drugs, but in New England, the problem has gotten so bad that police officers in Rhode Island and in the City of Boston are carrying naloxone, a prescription that can reverse heroin overdoses.

In the Northeast region, heroin deaths used to be in the single digits in New Hampshire ballooned to 63 incidents last year, while the state of Maine seen the epidemic quadruple between 2011 and 2012, according to an article in Al Jazeera America. Due to the uptick of overdoses, deaths and number of heroin users in these six states, the DEA decided to roll out an anonymous text messaging service, one that may curtail this ongoing problem. 

"This program enables citizens, who otherwise might be reluctant to provide information, to communicate directly and anonymously with a DEA agent via text message," John Arvanitis, agent in charge of the New England division, said in a news release.

The DEA has launched similar SMS apps across the country, but for different reasons. Last month, Georgia's division felt the need to roll out such a plan to reduce the number of pharmacists allegedly providing prescription drugs to those who don't need them.

Nationwide, the availability of painkillers and opiates may have contributed to the number of citizens who have become addicted to drugs like heroin. Max Sandusky of the AIDS Support Group in Cape Cod, Massachusetts explained to Al Jazeera that heroin is "available and cheap," which could be useful in situations where "the pills dried up."

Anyone who knows information on any type of drug-related activity like trafficking or money laundering schemes are urged to send a message to the DEA, it can help them reduce a region-wide problem. Towns that are facing a localized epidemic can try to solve the problem with their own SMS service. Swift SMS Gateway can help officials create a platform that can act as a one or two-way communication portal.